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Nigerian Blockchain Startup SureRemit Raises $7 Million in Biggest African ICO To Date

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Sureremit ICO

SureRemit, a Nigerian blockchain startup, has raised $7 million during its token sale held from December 8th to February 8, 2018, to develop its non-cash remittance platform.

A Succesful African ICO

SureRemit, which is majority owned by GreenHouse Capital, a Nigeria-based fintech holding company, utilises blockchain technology to allow diaspora Africans to make non-cash remittances to their families back home.

This is facilitated by the Remit token (RMT), a utility token designed on the Stellar Network. RMT tokens are used within the SureRemit platform and can be transferred between users. The tokens can be supported by wallets and traded on exchanges that already host Stellar lumens.

The Remit tokens were floated to early investors during the Pre-ICO at the start of the year. Pre-sale investors benefited from a 40 percent discount on RMT tokens which are presently retailing at 50 RMT for $1.  According to SureRemit Director, Samuel Biyi, participants in the ICO can expect the platform to use the funds raised to ramp up its operations by adding more merchants to its network. The company also plans to grow its team and bring in experienced professionals who can build and manage merchant relationships.

In an interview with E-Labz, Samuel Biyi acknowledged they have been attempts in the past to create non-cash services for different use cases but SureRemit has now applied the concept to the remittance sector. He states:

“We are looking to be the first coordinated effort into creating the product that is specific to that use case (non-cash remittance) not just you know becoming a hybrid of something else so we are aggregating local, physical merchants as well as utilities and channels [….] so I think we are the first major effort at running a global non-cash remittance platform.”

RMT tokens will be used within the SureRemit ecosystem to access vouchers and pay bills. Users will be able to create an order for a voucher to be delivered to the recipient via SMS or email, by selecting a country and the right merchant category and paying for the process using their Remit tokens. Upon receipt of the order, the token will be frozen until the voucher is sent from the SureRemit system. Once that occurs, the token is transferred to SureRemit.

Diaspora users can purchase instant shopping vouchers and pay utility bills for friends and relatives across Africa. For seamless remittances, the company relies on its merchant network in Nigeria, Rwanda, and Kenya, together with international partners to send e-vouchers that can be redeemed for goods and services at any of the affiliate merchants.

Attracting Top Investors

A number of prominent cryptocurrency investors participated in the funding round including Hashed, South Korea’s largest cryptocurrency fund. Hashed’s decision to back SureRemit’s pre-ICO token sale signals a growing interest for corporate investors in the potential of blockchain technology to solve remittance challenges in emerging markets where the large swathes of the populace remain disconnected from financial services. The fund has previously supported blockchain-based projects like Ethereum, Simple Token, and Airswap.

Kelechi Nwokocha, a member of the GreenHouse investment team, mentioned in a New Telegraph Online article,

“The implications of growth capital outside of equity financing is huge. It means SureRemit can scale its operations without additional capital from existing shareholders. SureRemit is just one of our 10 fintech enabled portfolio companies that can potentially leverage blockchain to address a specific market gap, particularly in Africa. We’re happy to take the lead on blockchain and cryptocurrency implementations on the continent.”

SureRemit aims to in the future integrate RMT tokens acceptance directly to the network’s partners, which in turn they can convert to fiat money and thus enabling token transfers to happen directly to the merchant’s balance.

The SureRemit ICO has been the most successful token sale in Africa to date and will likely encourage more offerings of this kind on the continent this year.

Blockchain Technology

Temasek Partners with SGX to Launch Singapore’s First Security Token Offerings Platform

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Bitcoin Remain dominant

Temasek Holdings, recently partnered with the Singapore Stock Exchange (SGX) to launch iSTOX, a security token offerings (STO) platform. This move marks the first of such services in a country and is yet another example of the rising stock of security tokens within the general cryptocurrency ecosystem.

Raising Capital Via STOs

According to finews.asia, SGX, and Temasek recently invested in iSTOX, the country’s first STO platform. Reports indicate that iSTOX will function as a capital market, allowing entrepreneurs to raise business capital through the sale of security tokens.

Commenting on the development, Danny Toe, CEO of ICHX – the operators of iSTOX, said:

The demands of the next generation of investors and issuers will be different, and this calls for a shift in how we should approach the process of capital funding. Utilising blockchain technology, iSTOX is able to offer STOs and address needs of both investors and issuers which are not adequately met today.

STOs differ from ICOs in that the latter involves the sale of tokenized securities. Many experts believe that STOs will provide the necessary regulatory compliance needed for blockchain-based crowdfunding.

Fiat Deals Only

The iSTOX platform will deal only in fiat transactions for the sale of tokenized securities. Despite being a blockchain-based platform with associated smart contract protocols, iSTOX is technically not a cryptocurrency exchange. Thus, the platform will not list ICO tokens or popular cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ether, XRP, etc.

According to available reports, ICHX is currently pursuing licensing from the country’s Monetary Authority. Once granted, iSTOX will begin offering the issuance and trading of STOs. Also, the platform plans to provide access to liquidity in the form of a secondary trading service. Fiat currencies will be used to facilitate all the transactions on the platform.

The Emergence of Security Tokens in the Cryptocurrency Narrative

Bitwise 10 Crypto Index TokenSTO platforms are fast becoming a common feature of the evolving cryptocurrency ecosystem. While ICOs undoubtedly captured the imagination in 2017, stricter regulations in many countries coupled with numerous incidences of fraud seem to be dampening the ICO craze.

In its place, STOs present a more regulatory compliant form of blockchain-based fundraising. In places like the United States, for example, regulators say that most ICOs are selling securities in the guise of utility tokens. However, STOs, being securities, must comply with laid down rules and regulations.

In 2018, numerous STO platforms have emerged. The growing consensus is that security tokens could upstage utility tokens providing a more assured entry point for mainstream investors to come into the cryptocurrency space.

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Blockchain Technology

Mauritius Gets First Blockchain Securities Exchange And Will Award Digital Custodian Licences

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Blockchain Securities Exchange

Mauritius will soon start issuing custodian licenses to companies holding digital assets on behalf of their clients because the current licensing regime is not suited for that purpose. Moreover, Mauritius is about to receive its first blockchain securities exchange.

Digital Asset Custodian Licenses

The Financial Services Commission (FSC) of the Republic of Mauritius released the draft framework intended for the fintech companies. They define “digital assets” as electronic tokens representing the holder’s access rights to a service or ownership of an asset. The FSC is currently accepting feedback on the proposal from industry representatives, stakeholders and the public. With the discussions and consultations going on till the end of November.

The FSC considers them a digital representation of value which can be a medium of exchange, the unit of account and store of value. The tokens can also represent assets such as debt or equity in the promoter or “provide access to a blockchain-based application, service or product.”

Mauritius FlagCurrently, the two kinds of licenses for traditional financial services the FSC provides do not support the specifics of safekeeping cryptographic assets. The proposed license is, therefore, specific to address this difference and comply with the current relevant regulations and laws.

One requirement includes an obligation to “have and maintain a minimum stated unimpaired capital of not less than 500,000 Mauritian rupees ($14,409.64).” Businesses wanting to apply for the license will need to have offices set up in Mauritius and also have permanent representatives to deal with the FSC as well as maintain records of the custodian. The boards of directors will need three members and up, “at least one of whom shall be resident in Mauritius.”

Additionally, those providing the custodian service providers will be required to have insurance protection for the assets that are kept in custody. They are subject to providing evidence of such arrangements to the FSC. They must also have systems in place that ensure compliance with all reporting requirements under Mauritian law.

Mauritius Receives a Blockchain Securities Exchange

As a result of Mauritius’ openness to digital assets, Mindex, GMEX Group and Hybrid Stock Exchange Corporation Limited (HYBSE) have partnered to create Mauritius’ first blockchain securities exchange. The joint venture – called HYBSE International Marketplace – plans to “integrate blockchain solutions and technology with traditional financial industries providing a complete and governed ecosystem that digitalises assets onto the blockchain.”

“As we embark on a journey to pave a previous uncharted way forward, this will inevitably create an ideal prospect to move the evolution of all financial systems, light-years ahead. We must also maintain a conscious belief of the power of this evolutionary step, as not to disrupt current global markets, but to rather bolster a new way of thinking that encompasses a decentralised and truly free market entity,” HYBSE’s operations manager, Daniel Liu, said.

The firms claim SMEs will be able to use the marketplace for an initial blockshare offering (IBO), such as block-shares, from businesses registered on the marketplace at “special discounted rates”. IBO is a time-limited offer to purchase cryptonised equities and other cryptonised instruments.

Asset classes that will be facilitated for trade will include cryptonised shares, cryptonised currencies, commodities, indices, forex, ETCs (exchange-traded commodities), ETFs (exchange-traded funds), and CETFs (crypto exchange-traded funds).

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Microsoft Partners with Interswitch to Launch New Blockchain-Powered Supply Chain Financing Platform in Nigeria

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Interswitch

Pan-African payments and commerce company, Interswitch Group, partnered with Microsoft to launch a new blockchain-backed supply chain financing service in Nigeria.

Seamless Supply Chain Financing

This new blockchain initiative will bring together different stakeholders – such as banks and corporations – on a single platform that will provide end-to-end visibility, ensuring fast, seamless trade financing in supply chain operations.

Interswitch Blockchain Service is said to be built and hosted using the Microsoft Azure blockchain solution, which provides proven security, compliance and also a scalable cloud platform that accelerates and supports next generation blockchain applications. 

Interswitch“In our 15 years of operation, we have experienced the bottlenecks associated with the existing corporate-based financing infrastructure in Nigeria.” Mitchell Elegbe, Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer at Interswitch, said.

“This is why we are happy to partner with Microsoft, by leveraging the advanced technology of the Microsoft Azure Blockchain, to prove the possibility of building a distributed ledger that is practical, viable and has the propensity to solve some of Nigeria’s most difficult financial and logistic problems,” he added.

Launching the Interswitch Blockchain Service (Supply Chain Finance Module) allows small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) access to more funding in a shorter time of up to three weeks. The participating banks include United Bank for Africa Plc, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, and Zenith Bank Plc.

SMEs will also be able to enjoy increased sales cycles from participating corporations such as the Dangote Group.

Transaction Enquiries and Verifications

The Interswitch Blockchain Service does not deploy the use of cryptocurrency in its application. Instead, transaction inquiries and verifications will be authorised by officials from participating entities without the incentives of a cryptocurrency.

Principal Program Manager, Microsoft Azure Blockchain at Microsoft Corporation, Michael Glaros, expressed excitement about the partnership with Interswitch. Glaros said: “The blockchain technology is still in its infancy in Nigeria and we are happy to pioneer its deployment in partnership with Interswitch, an innovative and forward-thinking company which has evolved its business around financial technology.”

“This will be the first enterprise-grade blockchain service in Nigeria, and one of only a handful of production blockchain applications in use by banks and corporates globally,” Glaros added.

The Interswitch Blockchain Service, allows Nigerian lenders and suppliers to identify and build relationships with high performing entrepreneurs. Therefore, according to Mitchell, the platform allows anyone to build blockchain-based solutions easily and more cost-effectively.

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